Building a kitchen counter may seem like an overly easy or an overly complicated task, depending on who you ask. Handymen and women that can build a shelf or an entire garage in a blink of an eye might smirk condescendingly if the question of kitchen counter building comes up in a conversation. Socialites or those who are simply not apt at building things may screech and recoil in horror at the mere thought of building a kitchen counter. The fact is that undertaking this task can be a relatively easy goal to accomplish, but only if the right questions are asked and the right measurements are considered before any construction or assembly takes place.
Firstly, what you need to ask yourself is: for what exact tasks will you be using your kitchen counter? If the answer is "for cooking", then you have not approached the project with enough seriousness or insight. A counter top and its base are important staple pieces of furniture in every kitchen and their ease of use determines how much and how often you will be using your kitchen premises. An unusable counter will, no doubt, deter you or your guests from hanging out in a kitchen, even when no cooking is involved.
So an important first question to ask yourself, before building a kitchen counter, is what will the counter be used for? Is is solely for preparation of food? Will the counter also double as a surface for servicing and eating a meal, or for serving a glass of wine? In the latter case, considerations need to be made as to the width and the height of the counter. After all, food preparation surfaces might need to be lower than bar counter height surfaces. In addition, if a kitchen counter needs to be designed to accommodate seating and eating functions, the leg room underneath the counter should be taken into consideration and incorporated into the design.
Along with the needed leg room, it is important to consider what the other functions of the space underneath a kitchen counter might be useful for your particular kitchen. For example, the space beneath can be used as additional storage for pots and pans and should, therefore, accommodate open and closed shelving. The required shelving depths will, inevitably limit the leg room space, so some sacrifices need to be made before the overall design is finalized.
The length of the kitchen counter needs to be figured out as well. Depending on the size of the family that will be using the counter on a regular basis, the counter's length is one of the more important considerations for design. If a family consists of only two people, the length requirements will be much less demanding that those for a family of five. The length of the counter is also limited by the overall size of a kitchen. A kitchen counter cannot be too long if it means that it will span most of or the entire length of the kitchen. Far from serving as great community space, a long bulky counter will serve as a barricade, instead. It will be a struggle to navigate around the counter, especially with a plate of hot soup in your hands.
Among some of the structural questions should be one that also concerns the aesthetic and practical decisions. The question of the material choice for the kitchen counter top should be considered to determine what the base of the counter top should be able to support and what the practical expectations for the counter top are. For example, plastic laminate is a popular choice of a material because it is generally much cheaper than quartz or solid surfacing. However, solid surface, like Corian, is much more resilient and durable and is, therefore, more desirable for food preparation purposes. Solid surface is also heavier than plastic laminate and the base of the counter should be able to support the weight of the material.
In terms of construction itself, materials such as plywood should serve very well for the inside structure of a kitchen counter base and underlying support of a counter top. After building the base structure and supporting shelves with stainless steel angles where needed, the finishing surface materials can go on last, finalizing the finished look of the kitchen counter and concealing all of the structural details, screws and nails underneath.
Finally, careful consideration should be taken when you finish the edges of the kitchen counter top base. The finishing edges should come together nicely with each other, which means that all the preliminary measurements and calculations for the building blocks of the base should be determined with great care. Ideally, the edges and angles will come together with precise exactitude and the counter top and its supporting base will look like a work of a professional, instead of an amateur.